Cover photo for Jerry Leon Chappelle's Obituary
Jerry Leon Chappelle Profile Photo
1939 Jerry 2023

Jerry Leon Chappelle

November 14, 1939 — May 30, 2023


Jerry Leon Chappelle of Watkinsville, GA died May 30, 2023, at Emory Hospital following complications with surgery—his big heart simply gave out. He was preceded in death by his parents Archie and Gladys Chappelle, his son, Marc Leon Chappelle and his beloved dogs, Lucy, Junior, Holly and Shoggi.

He was born November 14, 1939, in Fredricktown, MO and grew up in Farmington, MO, graduating from Farmington High School.  Jerry did his undergraduate work at Murray State University where he was social chairman of his fraternity Pi Kappa Alpha.

He met the love of his life, Kathy, through mutual friends at William Woods College in Fulton, MO. The union lasted 59 ½ years until his death. Jerry received his Master of Fine Arts from the University of Minnesota while teaching at the Blake School in Hopkins, MN. In 1970, he accepted a position as Associate Professor of Art at the University of Georgia. Jerry was a teacher, mentor, and friend to many people over the years. He loved a good party and if he could combine the two (which he did many times)—a great time was had by all!

Always a dreamer, he envisioned a community where artists could live and explore their craft.  He found an old farm in Farmington, GA and when his young family arrived, they all wanted to turn around and drive back to Minnesota. He decided to take a chance on it and 53 years later, Happy Valley is still going strong.

The conservative rural citizens of Oconee County didn’t quite know what to think of all those “hippies” down at the end of Colham Ferry Road, but over the years they came to accept and embrace the arts community.

Jerry was an accomplished artist. He was highly regarded and recognized by his peers with pieces displayed in museums around the world. He has received numerous recognitions including (with his wife, Kathy) the 2015 Governor’s Awards for the Arts and Humanities. Jerry was a founding member of OCAF (Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation) and was named Oconee County Citizen of the Year in 1997 as well as Volunteer of the Year in 1999. His work has also been featured in Southern Living Magazine and HGTV.

Jerry has been mentioned thousands of times in books, newspapers, and magazines, but despite his accomplishments, he was most proud of his family.  He was husband to Kathy, Dad to Dan (Christy), Lisa and Marc (Deceased), Grandad to Allison, Chandler, Kelsey (Chad), Jordyn (John), Jaye, Josh (Amanda) and Joey (Jamie) and Great Grandad to Crew, Hudson, Levi, Maevry and Judah.

Jerry’s heart was bigger than any piece of pottery or wall mural that he ever created.  It’s still beating in the lives of all those that loved him, but especially his wife, his family, and his beloved Kitty.

A visitation will be held on Sunday, June 4 at Lord and Stephens, West, Watkinsville, from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. with a short memorial service to follow from 3:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the chapel.

In lieu of flowers, please make memorial donations to the Ronald McDonald House of your choice or the American Heart Association.

Lord and Stephens Funeral Home, WEST, Watkinsville, GA, is in charge of arrangements.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Jerry Leon Chappelle, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Sunday, June 4, 2023

1:00 - 3:00 pm (Eastern time)

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Memorial Service

Sunday, June 4, 2023

Starts at 3:00 pm (Eastern time)

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


Visits: 30

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the
Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Service map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

Send Flowers

Send Flowers

Plant A Tree

Plant A Tree